The Agnus Dei -- The Lamb of God

Drawing for the Agnus Dei
Giulio Romano, ink on paper c.1540

Behold the Lamb of God


Luke 2:1-5 "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)”

Cyrenius a former Roman Senator, was also called Quirinius and he was appointed according to the Res Gestae of Augustus Caesar as special consul with powers to assess property in both Syria and Judea for taxation purposes. His first appointment was from 7-2 BC unofficially and later he served from 6-9 AD officially.

Both Joseph and Mary were of the lineage of David that is why they both traveled the 70 miles to Bethlehem to register with the taxation authorities in that town. Mary was already near term with child, and the long journey would have hastened the birth.

Roman records relate that during the reign of Octavian who was later named Augustus Caesar there were three censuses ordered. One was in 28 BC, another in 8 BC and another in 14 AD. The 8 BC census although ordered in 8 BC would take at least 2 years to fully affect the provinces in Judea.


Genesis 35:19,20 "And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave, that is the pillar upon Rachel's grave unto this day."

Ephraim was the son of the Benjamite Joseph of the many colored coat. He was sold into Egypt by his brothers and became Pharaoh's minister during the famines. He married the daughter of a priest of On the Sun God of Egypt and had two sons Eprhaim and Manasseh whom his father Jacob adopted and to whom he gave the double blessing. Ephraath is also meaning "fruitfullness". Christ was the first fruit. He indicated Himself He was the Bread from Heaven the Manna which would give eternal life by its consumption.


1 Samuel 16:4 "And Samuel did that which the Lord spake and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming..."
Samuel was told by God to go to Bethlehem and seek he whom the Lord indicated was to be anointed king in Saul's stead, for Saul had transgressed and was to be replaced in his office of king. Samuel was sent to Jesse and his sons, and the Lord said to not look at the stature of the person but God knew the heart of the individual and would indicate His choice to Him when he appeared.

1 Samuel 16:12 "...And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. 13. And Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward..."
From this day forward the Spirit of God rested on David and it departed from Saul entirely and and evil spirit entered Saul instead causing him to become mentally deranged.

1 Samuel 17:15 "But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem."
The time had not come for David to be king. So David returned to his office of shepherd for his father Jesse's sheep.


John 7:42 "Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?"

God indicated long beforehand that Bethlehem would be the place that someone like unto David would appear, of David's lineage and of the lineage of Jesse. Christ's appearance at Bethlehem indicated the fulfillment of the prophecies of His birth.


Luke 2:7,8 "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger ;because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night."

The Bible gives us an historical perspective -- Jesus was born under Roman rule in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod the Great ... before Herod’s death, but after a taxation decree of Caesar Augustus ... the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem to pay taxes ... Jesus was born before the journey of Wise Men who were Zoroastrian priests. They saw His Star while in the East (in Persia) seeing meaning they knew that by their records something extraordinary was happening in the heavens ... Herod’s decree calling for the death of all males, two years or less indicates that once he knew when the Magi saw the star he counted from that date to determine the age the child would be when they tried to murder him ... The taxation decree occurred in 8 BC. but would have taken time, perhaps a year or more for the order to have filtered into Judea and be declared at the time for Mary and Joseph to have prepared for their journey to Bethlehem. The Star seems to have been there in 7 BC. Herod’s death was after a lunar eclipse and before the Jewish feast of Passover. The partial lunar eclipse happened on March 13, 4 BC. Passover occurred on April 12. Herod’s death probably transpired around April 1, 4 BC.

According to the celestial records kept of the planetary convergences and aspects of the stars, for nearly 8 months Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction by 3 degrees. A rare triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was significant. The faster moving Jupiter overtook Saturn in the spring of 7 BC. By summer, Jupiter stopped its eastward motion and moved backwards, or retrograded, to pass Saturn for a second time and stood still. In the fall, Jupiter moved eastward again and overtook Saturn for a third time. In early 6 BC, Mars joined the pair to form a loose grouping low in the west right after dark. The interpretation by the Wise Men of these events was even more interesting. Jupiter, the king of the gods thrice passing the god which governed the destiny of the Jewish people which was Saturn in the constellation of Aquarius which was very close to Pisces influenced the Wise Men in thinking that the star the Zoroastrian prophesy foretold who would be born King prompted the journey of the Wise Men, most probably in early 6 BC. when Jupiter and Saturn joined the sun in Aries on the 20th of March and finally again on the 17th of April of 6 BC. Passover occurred about April 1st that year, directly betweeen the two dates when the moon occulted Jupiter.

The two covering cherubs on the Ark of the Covenant were named "Moloch" which in Hebrew means "King", or "King Star" commonly the name of the planet Jupiter. The other was named Chiun which was another name for the planet Saturn, the furthest planet observable by the naked eye in the solar system. When the two Cherubim were constructed at the beginning of the forty years of Exodus, Moses was told to have the two Cherubs facing one another with their wings touching over the mercy seat. This represented Jupiter facing Saturn in a conjunction with each other in the celestial spheres.


Matthew 2:4-6 "And when he (king Herod) had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6. And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel."

Not only was Herod given the title of "King of the Jews" from the Romans, but his summer palace was at Bethlehem. He guarded his own reputation and power so much that he even killed his own two sons to secure his own position. He was ruthless in all his pursuits.


Micah 5:2 "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."


Luke 2:5-7 “To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."


Exodus 13:2 "Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine."


Luke 2:10-12 “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all [the] people (the nation of Israel). 11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

Since the birth star conjunction was not completed until April in 6 BC and Christ was the Lamb of God, He also appeared at lambing time in the spring months, as the shepherds were grazing their sheep in the new grass and the ewes were lambing. This is the reason why symbolically the shepherds were given the message which they understood of a Lamb of God.


Luke 1:31-33 "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."

The angel announced to Mary that she was to be the Mother of Jesus, and the instant she accepted her role as Mother of the Son of God, she conceived. (What was the blood of the baby like that she conceived, -- we know today that the mother gives 23 chromosomes to the baby and the father gives the same number (23) of chromosomes. However the mother can only give the X chromosome for a female child since she has an XX pair for gender determination, while the father is the true determiner of the sex of the child because of the XY chromosomal pair. Jesus then should have 23 chromosomes plus one for a male or the additional Y determinant making a total of 24. There is no human being today in the world who has 24 chromosomes in their blood, only Christ has this to indicate He is the Son of God and the Son of Mary the human mother who donated His Body. And it serves as physical proof of his ancestry once the blood is tested and the results published.) TO JERUSALEM

Luke 2:21-22 "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; "


Leviticus 12:2-4 "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. 3. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4. And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled."


Luke 2:39 "And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth."


Matthew 2:8 "And he (Herod) sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."

From "Travels of Marco Polo":

"In Persia is the city called Saveh, from which the three Magi set out when they came to worship Jesus Christ. Here, too, they lie buried in three sepulchres of great size and beauty. Above each sepulchre is a square building with a domed roof of very fine workmanship. The one is just beside the other. Their bodies are still whole, and they have hair and beards. One was named Beltasar, the second Gaspar, and the third Melchior. "

"Messer Marco asked several of the inhabitants who these Magi were; but no one could tell him anything except that they were three kings who were buried there in days gone by. But at last he learnt What I will tell you. Three days farther on, he found a town called Kala Atashparastan, that is to say Town of the Fire-worshippers. And that is no more than the truth; for the men of this town do worship fire. And I will tell you why they worship it. The inhabitants declare that in days gone by three kings of this country went to worship a new-born prophet and took with them three offerings -gold, frankincense, and myrrh - so as to discover whether this prophet was a god, or an earthly king or a healer. For they said : 'If he takes gold, he is an earthly king; if frankincense, a god; if myrrh, a healer.'"

"When they had come to the place where the prophet was born, the youngest of the three kings went in all alone to see the child. He found that he was like himself, for he seemed to be of his own age and appearance. And he came out, full of wonder. Then in went the second, who was a man of middle age. And to him also the child seemed, as it had seemed to the other, to be of his own age and appearance. And he came out quite dumbfounded. Then in went the third, who was of riper years; and to him also it happened as it had to the other two. And he came out deep in thought. When the three kings were all together, each told the others what he had seen. And they were much amazed and resolved that they would all go in together."

"So, in they went, all three together, and came before the child and saw him in his real likeness and of his real age; for he was only thirteen days old. Then they worshipped him and offered him the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh. The child took all three offerings and then gave them a closed casket. And the three kings set out to return to their own country. "

"After they had ridden for some days, they resolved to see what the child had given them. They opened the casket and found inside it a stone. They wondered greatly what this could be. The child had given it to them to signify that they should be firm as stone in the faith that they had adopted. For, when the three kings saw that the child had taken all three offerings, they concluded that he was at once a god, and an earthly king, and a healer. And, since the child knew that the three kings believed this, he gave them the stone to signify that they should be firm and constant in their belief."

"The three kings, not knowing why the stone had been given to them, took it and threw it into a well. No sooner had it fallen in than there descended from heaven a burning fire, which came straight to the well into which it had been thrown. When the three kings saw this miracle, they were taken aback and repented of their throwing away the stone; for they saw clearly that its significance was great and good. They immediately took some of this fire and carried it to their country and put it in one of their churches, a very fine and splendid building."

"They keep it perpetually burning and worship it as a god. And every sacrifice and burnt offering which they make is roasted with this fire. If it ever happens that the fire goes out, they go round to others who hold the same faith and worship fire also and are given some of the fire that burns in their church. This they bring back to rekindle their own fire. They never rekindle it except with this fire of which I have spoken. To procure this fire, they often make a journey of ten days. "

"That is how it comes about that the people of this country are fire worshippers. And I assure you that they are very numerous. All this was related to Messer Marco Polo by the inhabitants of this town; and it is all perfectly true. Let me tell you finally that one of the three Magi came from Saveh, one from Hawah, and the third from Kashan."


Matthew 2:13 “And when they (wise men) were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.”


Matthew 2:19 “But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,”


Matthew 2:22-23 "But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene."


Luke 2:22-23 "And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23. (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)"


Numbers 18:15 "Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto the LORD, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem."


Numbers 18:17 "But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not redeem; they are holy: thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savour unto the LORD."


John 1:29 "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.'"


John 6:32-35 "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh [present active] to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth [present active] on me shall never thirst."


I Corinthians 5:7 "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:"

On the 14th of NISAN (the quatrodeciman) between the sunset and dusk, the Passover Lamb was to be killed. Jesus Christ was the Passover Lamb.

One year earlier, before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus Christ had been called named "Behold the Lamb of God", been baptized with water by John, had received the Holy Spirit which descended upon Him as a dove, and then was tempted for forty days in the wilderness. He was in Jerusalem for the Passover. He spoke to Nicodemus about being born again as his ministry began. And during the first few months following he spoke about his ministry in the Synagogue at Nazareth where he began to preach the gospel about the kingdom.

Luke 4:17-19 "And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.'"

Scriptural evidence teaches us that the acceptable 'year of the Lord' in which all of the recoreded works of Jesus Christ occurred in all the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in reality occurred in one calendar year beginning around Passover one year as recorded in John 2:13 and ending the following year with his crucifixion at the time of the Passover.

The requirement of the law for the 'Passover Lamb' was that it had to be a lamb 'of the first year.' If Jesus Christ was to be the Passover sacrifice he had to be a lamb of one year, a firstling lamb. The first year does not refer to Jesus' age but to the fact that he was baptized of John and began his ministry "about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23). Jesus Christ was a lamb of the first year holding forth the gospel of healing, deliverance, preaching about the kingdom of God: 'preaching the acceptable year of the Lord.'

Exodus 12:5-6 "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening."

Preparations for the Passover meal and the Feast of Unleavened bread began the first day of the month with the blowing of trumpets that signaled a new year in the Hebrew sacred calendar. On the tenth day of the month the lamb was selected as preparations continued.

Exodus 12:3 "Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:'"

Preparations included a requirement that all males of the house of Israel come to Jerusalem prior to the Passover and purify themselves. During this purification preparation, at the end of Christ's ministry He was in Bethany near Jerusalem in order to prepare as required by the law of Moses. And during this preparation he ate the Last Supper with his disciples. It was according to the Egyptian Passover that some still kept according to their beliefs, but was not the day that the rest of Israel celebrated as the commanded memorial dinner by God Himself.

John 11:55, 12:1 "And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves."

Jesus six days before this came to Bethany, where Lazarus was and he raised him from the dead.

Jesus ate with his disciples, was captured, tried and the next morning was executed by being nailed to the cross.

John 18:28 "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment; and it was early; and they [the Judeans] went not into the judgment hall [Pilate's judgment hall - a Gentile place that would leave them unclean for the Passover], lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover."

And after Jesus was crucified...

John 19:42 "There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand."

Both events, judgment before Pilate and the burial of Jesus, happened after the Last Supper and before the general observance of the Passover meal by the rest of Israel. The Passover meal was eaten at nightfall which began the 15th of Nisan. Jesus WAS the passover lamb that year. He did not eat the passover meal with the apostles as would have been observed throughout the nation by the general populace. Only a few kept the original Egyptian Passover, the rest celebrated the Memorial Passover.

Since Jesus was a lamb of the 'first year' and had preached one acceptable year of the Lord ending with his Perfect Sacrifice for us as the true Passover Lamb, he had to comply with the Law of Moses for His own Sacrifice or it would not have been acceptable to God the Father as lawful and worthy.

We know the Sacrifice was acceptable when God raised Him up after the three days in the Tomb. When that occurred it indicated that God had accepted the Sacrifice and that the Angel of Death was authorized to Pass-Over all those who were under sin, and the Blood of the Lamb would protect and guarantee the promises of the New Covenant.


The center of attention throughout this feast is undoubtedly the unblemished lamb that would be with the family for a little over three days, and then killed and its blood applied to the doorposts of the house. This motif is rich in typology relating to the death of Christ on the cross (which occurred concurrently with the slaughter of the lambs in the Temple precincts. The New Testament alludes to Christ in Passover language so as to make the connection all but unmistakable. There are many points of resemblance between the Passover lambs and the Lamb of God. An innocent, unblemished lamb had to die to secure redemption and avert God's judgment (death of the firstborn male). The lamb was to appear at the house on the 10th (corresponding to the triumphal entry of Christ), and then be killed between the 14th and 15th (corresponding to the day and time when Christ sacrificed himself for us). The blood of the lamb had to be APPLIED to be rendered effectual (faith was required) and one had to do what was expected of the Blood didn't protect. This is why we are so insistent upon acceptance of the free gift of salvation from God, and why it is to be applied in the same manner that Christ indicated, first baptism and then eating of His Body and drinking His Blood, which with all sacrifices had to be consumed.

The lamb was to be roasted which is why our communion bread is baked.It was to be eaten as food, which is why we consume the Eucharist on a regular basis to remain connected to Christ and to be continually nourished by Him. No bone was to be broken, which never was in Christ's Body either, when the Centurion saw He was dead already he used his lance to make sure by pushing it into His side from which issued the Blood and the Water which with the Holy Spirit are the witness on earth, just as in heaven the Father, Son and Holy Spirit attest there.


It is necessary to point out that there were several unique features of the 'Egyptian Passover' that differentiated it from all subsequent Passover Memorials. Edersheim makes mention of the fact that, "Jewish authorities rightly distinguish between 'the Egyptian' and the 'Permanent Passover.'" (Alfred Edersheim, "The Temple, Its Ministry and Services", p. 211). This is the same distinction we observe with the original Sacrifice of Christ and the Memorials which we celebrate in Divine Liturgy with the Eucharist as its central focus. Christ IS the Eucharist once the gifts are consecrated.

Edersheim states: "The name of the 'Passover', in Hebrew 'Pesach,' and in Aramean and Greek 'Pascha,' is derived from a root which means to 'step over,' or to 'overleap,' and thus points back to the historical origin of the festival (Exo 12).

"But the circumstances in which the people were placed necessarily rendered its first celebration, in some particulars, different from its later observance, which, so far as possible, was brought into harmony with the general Temple practice. Accordingly, Jewish authorities rightly distinguish between 'the Egyptian' and the 'Permanent Passover.'"

"On its first institution it was ordained that the head of every house should, on the 10th of Nisan, select either a lamb or a kid of the goats, of the first year, and without blemish. Later Jewish ordinances, dating after the return from Babylon, limit it to a lamb; and it is explained that the four days previous to the slaying of the lamb referred to the four generations that had passed after the children of Israel went down into Egypt."

"The lamb was to be killed on the eve of the 14th, or rather, as the phrase, is, 'between the two evenings' (Exo 12:6; Lev 23:5; Num 9:3,5). According to the Samaritans, the Karaite Jews, and many modern interpreters, this means between actual sunset and complete darkness (or, say, between six and seven p.m.); but from the contemporary testimony of Josephus (Jew. Wars, vi. 9, 3), and from Talmudical authorities, there cannot be a doubt that, at the time of our Lord, it was regarded as the interval between the sun's commencing to decline and his actual disappearance. This allows a sufficient period for the numerous lambs which had to be killed, and agrees with the traditional account that on the eve of the Passover the daily evening sacrifice was offered an hour, or, if it fell on a Friday, two hours, before the usual time."

"In the original institution the blood of the sacrifice was to be sprinkled with hyssop on the lintel and the two doorposts of the house, probably as being the most prominent place of entrance. Then the whole animal, without breaking a bone of it, was to be roasted, and eaten by each family--or, if the number of its members were too small, by two neighbouring families--along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, to symbolise the bitterness of their bondage and the haste of their deliverance, and also to point forward to the manner in which the true Israel were in all time to have fellowship in the Paschal Lamb (1 Cor 5:7,8)."

"All who were circumcised were to partake of this meal, and that arrayed as for a journey; and whatsoever was not consumed was to be burnt on the spot. These ordinances in regard to the Passover were afterwards modified during the journey in the wilderness to the effect, that all males were to appear 'in the place which the Lord shall choose,' and there alike to sacrifice and to eat the lamb or kid, bringing at the same time also another offering with them (Exo 34:18-20; Deut 16:2,16,17). Lastly, it was also ordered that if any man were unclean at the time of the regular Passover, or 'in a journey afar off,' he should celebrate it a month later (Num 9:9-11)."

"The Mishnah (Pes. ix. 5) contains the following, as the distinctions between the 'Egyptian' and the 'Permanent' Passover: 'The Egyptian Passover was selected on the 10th, and the blood was to be sprinkled with a sprig of hyssop on the lintel and the two door-posts, and it was to be eaten in haste in the first night; but the Permanent Passover is observed all the seven days'; i.e. the use of unleavened cakes was, on its first observance, enjoined only for that one night, though, from Israel's haste, it must, for several days, have been the only available bread; while afterwards its exclusive use was ordered during the whole week."

" Similarly, also, the journey of the children of Israel commenced on the 15th of Nisan, while in after-times that day as observed as a festival like a Sabbath (Exo 12:16; Lev 23:7; Num 28:18). To these distinctions the following are also added (Tos. Pes. viii): In Egypt the Passover was selected on the 10th, and killed on the 14th, and they did not, on account of the Passover, incur the penalty of 'cutting off,' as in later generations; of the Egyptian Passover it was said, 'Let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it,' while afterwards the Passover-companies might be indiscriminately chosen; in Egypt it was not ordered to sprinkle the blood and burn the fat on the altar, as afterwards; at the first Passover it was said, 'None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning,' which did not apply to later times; in Egypt it was slain by every one in his own house, while afterwards it was slain by all Israel in one place; lastly, formerly where they ate the Passover, there they lodged, but afterwards they might eat it in one, and lodge in another place."

"Scripture records that the Passover was kept the second year after the Exodus (Num 9:1-5), and then not again till the Israelites actually reached the promised land (Josh 5:10); but, as the Jewish commentators rightly observe, this intermission was directed by God Himself (Exo 12:25; 13:5)."

"After that, public celebrations of the Passover are only mentioned once during the reign of Solomon (2 Chron 8:13), again under that of Hezekiah (2 Chron 30:15), at the time of Josiah (2 Kings 23:21), and once more after the return from Babylon under Ezra (Ezra 6:19)."

" On the other hand, a most significant allusion to the typical meaning of the Passover-blood, as securing immunity from destruction, occurs in the prophecies of Ezekiel (Eze 9:4-6), where 'the man clothed with linen' is directed to 'set a mark upon the foreheads' of the godly (like the first Passover-mark), so that they who were to 'slay utterly old and young' might not 'come near any' of them. The same symbolic reference and command occur in the Book of Revelation (Rev 7:2,3; 9:4), in regard to those who have been 'sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.'


It is important to realize that according to Judges 2:1, it was Christ, the preincarnate "Angel of YHWH', His Son, who Himself brought the children of Israel out of Egypt in the passover:

Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: "I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, `I will never break My covenant with you. (Judges 2:1, NKJV).

biblical scholars disagree on the dating of Christ's birth, life, and death. But if we confirm the death of Christ in the year 30 A.D. of the Julian Calendar or the Hebrew calendrical year of 3790, we can see that Passover began on Thursday evening.

Under the Law, Passover always falls on the 14th of Nisan (or Abib as it was called in Moses time). Using this we can calculate Christ's time in the Tomb, confirming it was three whole days and three whole nights.

According to Jewish custom for the time, any part of a day even 1 hour constitutes 'a day'. The logic in this case is similar to the way we consider a birthday to occur on a given day even if the child is born 1 minute before midnight which ends that day. Jesus was entombed briefly on Friday, and by Jewish thinking, to have been in the grave that day and it is counted as the first day of his entombment. Saturday (Sabbath) likewise becomes day 2 and is a full 24 hours. Then Sunday constitutes the 3rd day of His laying in the tomb even though He resurrects in the early hours of Sunday morning. Thus three days passed even though it was likely less than 30 hours of actual time. The scriptures do say three days, not 72 hours.

Jewish custom also states that a day begins at Sunset, not at Midnight as we calculate it. This complicates the reckoning somewhat -- but Leviticus states,
'In the fourteenth day of the first month (Nisan) at even (meaning 'evening') is the Lord's Passover.' (Leviticus 23:5)
Taking that literally, we set the date of Thursday as the 14th of Nisan and at evening passover begins which would be the start of the 15th day by Jewish standards.

Thursday evening fell on April 6, A.D. 30. This was the true 14th of Nisan which began at sunset (quatrodeciman). There was a debate at that time over whether to eat Passover on the Egyptian date of the 14th or on the 15th. (The Pharisees reckoned time for a day from sunset to sunset, while the Sadducees reckoned it sunrise to sunrise.)

Jesus ate Passover on Thursday the 14th. Regarding the use of unleavened or leavened bread, unleavened represented the bread of affliction, because the Israelites left in Egypt in haste from a life of slavery and suffering. The Passover itself was the memorial of the departure from Egypt.

But with Christ's Body it was not unleavened but the "memorial" He commanded was like the shewbread of the altar, which was leavened and represented like the Greek communion bread or "artos" which means a loaf of bread. Since Christ was the bread of heaven, the manna, and that which came from the house of bread in Bethlehem, He wa s the leavened shewbread or that of the Presence which resided in the Holy Place of the Temple. Leavened bread routinely represented the divine presence of the sinless God. And He Himself said "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35, 48).

At the Last Supper He avoided use of the unleavened bread terminology in his speech. And thereby He set the precident of His Sacramental Body being the bread of those who were set free, therefore it was not leavened. Contrary to most thinking the communion wafer is composed of a slurry of yeast and flour which is quickly cooked to mainain its flatness.

And the day following the Passover is always the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. It was the Lamb which was primarily eaten on Passover, but because the leaven was taken from all homes during the preparation days for the feast, there was no yeast or leavening available for use at that time or the household would again require purging from leaven. Both leavened and unleavened bread are used in Scripture to represent the presence of God whether that is in the bread of the captives being taken from Egypt to freedom, or whether it is the leaven of holiness which God symbolizes. And there is no indication in the Bible which requires unleavened bread at the Divine Liturgy. What is used is determined by the customary shape and consistency of it. Canon says it must be wheat flour with salt and water, and since bread is constomarily made with yeast, that form of leavening is used instead of baking powder or soda which acts in a different way from the live yeast itself.

Return to Main Web Page